In the 1980s and 1990s the health trend was low fat everything and calorie counting (can you believe it?). Now we see (and research shows) that a higher fat, lower carb diet helps our bodies and our minds.
Navigating your way through the world of diets and nutrition can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. As a nutrition expert, I believe the secret is eating to feel good. It's not about abstinence and being on a really strict regime, it’s about lasting lifestyle change.
And the good news is that it doesn't take a huge overhaul, just a few small changes at a time. A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that participants who made one small, potentially permanent change in their food choices and/or physical activity each week (e.g. drinking one fewer can of soda or walking five more minutes each day) lost more than twice as much belly fat, two and a half more inches off their waistlines, and about four times more weight during a four month program, compared with those who followed traditional calorie-restriction and physical-activity guidelines.
So if you've had a bad food day or are just looking for nutritional restart, follow these guidelines until you start feeling better. You'll notice a difference very quickly if you stick to them!
1. What to eat for a healthy reset.
Aim for a diet of more fish, less animal products, loads of greens, and colorful vegetables. Here's a simple formula: keep weekdays clean, get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, and save indulging for the weekends (more on that later).
And stay sated with plant-based proteins. Researchers at Denmark's University of Copenhagen have conducted one of the world's largest diet studies and found that eating a diet higher in protein and limited in refined carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight. The study also found eating a diet with a slightly higher protein content and low-glycemic index (GI) foods ensures people who have lost weight maintain their weight loss.
Expert shopping list: Healthy, protein-rich foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, dairy, and legumes. They stabilize blood-sugar levels, curb sugar cravings and keep you feeling full with fiber. Including healthy fats which naturally occur in foods such as avocado, oily fish like salmon, olive oil, nuts, seeds and flax adds to the satiety and actually helps to keep you from overeating.
2. A guideline to portion size.
A good rule of thumb is to divide your plate in half. Half is plants—salad and veggies. On the other side, one quarter is protein; of course, the size of your plate matters...this should be about the size of your fist. The other quarter is a complex carb or root veggie, like brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa, celeriac, turnip, parsnips, or beets.
Try to include one serving of good fat each meal, too. That could be half an avocado, a tablespoon of hummus, olive oil or nut oil. Fat is important for brain function and to stop you from having low blood sugar. Good fats are particularly important for anyone with low blood sugar or anyone who suffers from being "hangry." They'll help you stay full.
Expert indulgence tip: Yes, indulgence is part of the plan! Living a healthy, well balanced lifestyle also means being able to enjoy your favorite eats. I recommend the 80/20 rule: Have nourishing whole foods 80 percent of the time, and treat yourself 20 percent of the time.
3. Implement a preventative plan for "bad food days."
No one is immune to bad food days...those days when we say yes to the office donut, which quickly spirals into less than stellar food choices for the rest of the day. My simple solution is to adopt super clean, meat-free Monday. Eating super clean for one day of the week helps get you back on track and balances any overindulgences that have happened during the course of the week.
Summary: A nutrition expert's 10 tips for beating the bloat
- Wake up to hot lemon and water to kick-start your metabolism and set the tone for a healthy day.
- Aim for a low gluten and low dairy diet, and supplement with a bio-available alkalizer to balance acidity in the body.
- Eat more fish and less red meat.
- Eat loads of greens and veggies from the color of the rainbow.
- Don’t be scared of fat, good fats are essential—eat avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish like wild-caught salmon.
- Swap white bread and pasta for sweet potato, quinoa or pearl barley.
- Get 30 minutes (or more) of exercise every day.
- It’s OK to treat yourself! Adopt the 80/20 rule—eat nourishing whole foods 80 percent of the time, and treat yourself 20 percent of the time.
- Meat-free, super clean Mondays—this is clean eating to balance out any indulgence over the weekend.
- Eat your fruit as nature intended—fresh and whole.
The number one thing? Don't beat yourself up. We all have bad food days! By following these simple food guidelines that allow for variety and enjoyment, you'll be feeling better in no time.